The NFL made headlines last week as the topic of inappropriate scouting combine interview questions was a hot topic. University of Colorado tight end Nick Kasa said, in an interview, that one NFL scout asked him questions such as, “Are you married?” and “Do you like girls?” This revelation sparked the topic of gay players in the NFL, especially in light of the bizarre "catfishing" story involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti T'eo.
I have zero scientific evidence in my possession, but the proportion that I have consistently read in articles and (respected) sociologists’ guesstimates and survey estimates is that approximately 10% of the population, male and female, is gay. Based on my own personal experiences and observations, I can buy that figure.
Assuming that the 10% estimate is somewhere…anywhere in the ballpark and considering that there are about 2,500 NFL players in any given year (active roster, practice squad, injured reserve, waived players, etc.), I am willing to bet that there are at least a few dozen gay players in the NFL, conservatively. Still, there are no openly gay players and until there are, those players remain in the shadows.
FIGHT THE POWER
Less than 70 years ago, no black players were allowed to play Major League Baseball. Still, there was a bevy of African-American talent on the diamond. They played in the Negro Leagues. The leagues had a significant following as, frankly, some of the best talent in the country played there and, often, the games were more colorful (no pun intended) than their MLB counterparts.
One characteristic that stood out were the names. “Black Yankees”, “Black Barons”, “Greys”…color, color, color. The reason is understandable, but is awfully predicable and a little boring. This is where gay football players may have an in-road.
If openly gay players participated in their own leagues, showcasing their talent, perhaps then the NFL could recognize how foolish it is to keep gay players in the closet to preserve a machismo that is becoming rapidly outdated and unfashionable. One area in which the league could quickly distinguish itself is in team nomenclatures. We have seen in creative venues such as the arts, interior design, and fashion that gay men have been disproportionately successful and prominent. I would expect that this would extend to the team names and that we would have more creative mascots than “Gay Bears” or “Gay Buccaneers”.
|You're black. Your mascot is "Barons". So you call yourself "Black Barons"? Wow! That's original. VERY valuable contributors to American sports history, but that name caught nobody by surprise.3|
OUT IN THE OPEN
I have gay acquaintances. I cannot help but notice the lifestyle-oriented self-deprecation that they often engage in with one another while in social settings. Therefore, I would expect some off-color fervor extending to the mascots in a gay football league. The following could be the league we see in which men can be proud to be who they are without fear of archaic interview questions from homophobic General Managers.
All new leagues start small, but there would be nothing to stop the new league from improving upon the current mascots used by NFL teams.
Green Bay Meat Packers – Before you get up in arms, understand that the NFL’s oldest franchise was, in fact, named after meat factory workers who did the packing – packers.
Chicago Teddy Bears – A big ferocious animal mixed with a little cuddly tenderness.
Dallas Reverse Cowboys – In your FACE, Jerry Jones (do not read into that phrasing).
Washington Foreskins – As gratuitous and potentially offensive as this mascot is, it isn’t nearly as offensive as the “Redskins”.
Cleveland Brown Eyes – Yeah…that one warrants no explanation.
|The Chicago team wouldn't even need to change the live mascot. 1|
St. Louis Rammers – Real football players can give…and take…a pounding!
The San Francisco Football Club – Would a team in San Francisco in a league like this even need a mascot?
Beverly Hills Shoppers – I’ll bet these dudes would make damn sure there is a team in L.A.!
Arizona Cardinals – Not the red birds, but the Catholic officials. After centuries of being told about immorality, why not offer a back handed swipe at an organization that has had its own dirty little secrets in recent decades?
Houston Oilers – The league could have inspiration from an historic football mascot while putting its own cultural twist on a name that could imply lubrication.
|Logo for the new league's Arizona "Cardinals" 2|
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1) Image from http://sharondew.blogspot.com
2) Image from http://inquiringminds.cc
3) Image from http://thebusmuseum.blogspot.com